Remakes and cinematic universes are the biggest Hollywood trends right now (and perhaps for years to come). Nowadays, we rarely we see new and original material in our movie theaters, but once in a while a hidden gem sneaks out through the unstoppable mudslide of comic book films and reboots.
Now, I'm not saying that these are bad. On the contrary — I am more than happy to see comic book properties sharing the cinematic spotlight, and I'm willing to watch them all. But when a movie like #TheWitch comes out, it's kind of become our obligation as moviegoers to stop and pay attention — as much to the movie as to its director, Robert Eggers.
It wasn't so long ago that Eggers was announced as the director for the remake of the horror classic Nosferatu, the 1922 adaptation of Dracula's story. So despite it being a remake, the fact that we've got such a talented filmmaker attached to the project might just be a very good thing.
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The Witch Shows The Extent Of Robert Eggers's Talent
The Witch is a movie that divided people right down the middle, with some that loved it and some that hated it. I am not going to analyze the movie in this article (if you are interested, I wrote a piece about it and you can read it here), however, I will try to explain how this movie showcased the talent of director #RobertEggers, and how this could be a golden opportunity to reinvigorate the horror genre.
The success of The Witch can't be measured by how many jump scares it managed to deliver (in fact, I don't think there are any), but in how the movie absorbs you into the environment and how fear takes ahold of you once you understand that fear has different faces. The Witch is not even about the titular witch, but what it meant to have fear back in the day — fear of God, fear of starving because the crop went bad, fear of not being a good son or daughter, and how that brought out the darkness in us.
While that might not seem like the ideal material for a good scary movie these days, the themes of the movie are even broader than that: It's about the fear of failing to accomplish our long or short-term goals, the constant feeling that we will leave this world without making our own mark. Instead of the health of the crops, we dread insecurity, inferiority complexes and the opinion of others — but the result is the same.
Though Nosferatu Was Made In The 1920s, It's Still As Relevant As Ever
#Nosferatu was a groundbreaking film because it was part of the German Expressionism movement that developed before World War I during the 1920s. It was revolutionary because it experimented with bold, new ideas and artistic styles. As defined by Wikipedia, "the plots and stories of Expressionist films often dealt with madness, insanity, betrayal and other "intellectual" topics triggered by the experiences of WWI (as opposed to standard action-adventure and romantic films)."
The Witch has so many elements from this movement that even though the timeframe is around 1630, the topics can resonate with modern times — just as Nosferatu did back in 1920 by exploring the connection between cinema, warfare and politics.
Eggers's vision, enhanced by great cinematography, is proof enough that #horror movies can still be part of serious cinema, and movies like Nosferatu could benefit from a fresh approach that would reinvigorate a classic while exploring the mythology behind it, instead of just making a modern production with a well-known story.
On top of that, the director knows all too well the stakes of remaking an excellent film:
“It feels ugly and blasphemous and egomaniacal and disgusting for a filmmaker in my place to do 'Nosferatu' next. I was really planning on waiting awhile, but that’s how fate shook out. I can’t also do Max Schreck again either, so that’s fun, so it’s going back to the origins of the folk vampire.”
Someone that is aware of the titanic task of remaking a classic and approaching the project with respect is a great first step. The fact that he mentioned his intention to explore the origins of the folk vampire is also really encouraging because that's exactly what he did with The Witch. Eggers showed us first what it meant to live during that time, and then guided us from there.
By basing his version on the underlying themes of the movie instead of the story itself, maybe Eggers will spearhead a new era of how to approach horror remakes (or maybe not). But he definitely earned the benefit of the doubt and the chance to do so. Filmmakers do not have to reinvent the wheel, they just have to find new ways to use it.
Well, there you have it. Thank you very much for your time and I hope you enjoyed the read!
Do you think that Eggers is the right director to tackle the Nosferatu remake? Could you imagine this broader approach to remaking with beloved franchises like Friday the 13th or A Nightmare on Elm Street?